Governor Hutchinson will go anywhere, apparently. He chose to spend 10 minutes last night being badgered by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on his veto (overridden) of the cruel bill prohibiting medical treatment for transgender youth.
I thought Hutchinson won. He knew more about the subject than Carlson, who was spewing dishonest right-wing-crafted catchphrases like “chemical castration.”
The encounter was interesting for two things:
1. The coordinated right-wing/Fox attacks, replayed in the Arkansas legislature through national right-wing figures, indicate Republicans think the war on all transgender people, but particularly children, is a winner politically. God help us if they are right. They’ve won the Arkansas legislature, no doubt. That — again — is not necessarily representative of the state population at large.
2. The episode illustrated the growing animus on the Republican side toward corporate America, despite its source of campaign finance riches. Carlson refused to believe corporations hadn’t influenced Hutchinson’s veto. I believe Hutchinson when he said he hadn’t gotten corporate pressure to veto the bill and that he listened to medical professionals. Corporate Arkansas is scared of the reactionaries in charge of the legislature. Their lobbyists dispute them only timidly, knowing well that this mean bunch is prone to exacting revenge. The Walton Family Foundation made an 11th-hour squeak about anti-LGBT legislation pouring out of the legislature. The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce all but apologetically endorsed a sham “hate crimes” bill shorn of LGBT protection, with Randy Zook suggesting the corporate lobby been pressured unfairly by “cancel culture” and “virtue signaling.” It was a shameless performance for a meaningless piece of window dressing that even the right-wing nuts accept because of its emptiness. It protects neo-Nazis, the sponsor agreed!
Hutchinson knew his veto would be overridden. That’s not alone a reason to discredit his action. He also gained some points with rational voters for doing the right thing. But the record indicates they are in short supply in these parts. So I’ll still credit him.
Also credit him for being reasonably calm as Carlson interrupted and berated him. And he spoke eloquently of fair treatment for the 200 kids currently receiving treatment that will be halted when this bill takes effect in 90 days or so, unless a lawsuit succeeds in putting a stop to the cruelty.
UPDATE: Media Matters documented Carlson’s dishonesty in the Hutchinson appearance.